Nestled into a cozy corner at a well-known family restaurant, we looked forward to a nice Sunday afternoon lunch. With our food and drink order completed, we began a long anticipated conversation. This is one of my favorite times; just Kathy and me talking. As we began, a conversation at the next table intrigued me. "You're doing it again, aren't you," Kathy gently accused. "What?" acting surprised, "Ah, no, um, I . . . I am listening, really I am." But, well, in fact, I was busted. Once again, my astute hearing enabled close attention to the conversation at the table of eight people just next to us. Trying to listen to two conversations at the same time is, I can tell you men, not wise! :-)
In a crowded room of more than thirty people, a man railed against his "ill treatment." Desiring to participate and lead in a local church in the area, he simply didn't know why he was left off the leadership team. Clearly he wanted to be up front in the limelight. After forcibly listening to his hour long, obnoxious rant, it was clear that his biggest problem was himself. A "himself" that he did not or could not clearly see; if see at all.
First & last names were called out again and again of people not present. Inflated accomplishments were touted. Personal victimization seemed his theme. Anger was apparent. Ultimatums were uttered, and intimidation was evident.
Upon leaving the cafe, a gentleman paying at the cashier uttered under his breath, "That guy wouldn't be in leadership at any level of my team." Several thoughts:
1. Learn Your True Self: An ancient proverb says, "Better are the wounds of a sincere friend than the kisses of an enemy." Why was he not part of the team? If he was not a part of the team, was it perhaps that he did not possess the levels of skills he thought? Psychologist David Dunning and his graduate student Justin Kruger developed the Dunning-Kruger effect in which Dunning summarized:
"What's curious is that, in many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge."
"...incompetent people do not recognize--scratch that, cannot recognize--just how incompetent they are."
2. Speak True to People as You Wish They Speak of You! Whether social media, verbal, and especially in public, never never never call out people by their names! Especially, if they're not present. Most companies looking for new hires will check perspective employee's Facebook pages and other media sources. Detrimental comments about work, coworkers, family, and friends, will damage if not end many opportunities.
Once, while in a hotel here in the United States, I said something about a group of people in the lobby. They were in my opinion quite obnoxious. Speaking to Kathy in the Zulu language, I spoke confidently. Who would know what I said besides the two of us? Just then, a white American man spoke Zulu back to me. Busted! What were the chances that a white person in the United States would be fluent in an African language? In today's age, nothing is private. And a good motto is, "If I said it, I only am to blame."
3. Discover Your Real You. It was so very obvious that this man was frustrated, hurt, disappointed, and rather desperate to be part of something. What were the real issues of his heart; significance, security, recognition, self-worth, or security? If he received everything he demanded at that table, would it make a difference?
4. Value Yourself and Make Yourself Valuable to Others. Only by becoming a personal asset is one highly valued on a team. Players that show up late, speak poorly of others in the locker room, under perform, and overvalue themselves don't make it; ON ANY TEAM!
5. Learn One Simple Secret! People like to share about themselves! They need someone to listen! Learn to ask people about their lives and journies. Learn to listen. Learn to value what's going on in their lives. Be an empathetic compassionate listener, and you'll be a part of many teams over your life! No one likes to hear a person talk only about themselves. Three thousand years ago a very wise king wrote, "Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth -- a stranger, not your own lips." Very Good Advice.
Just My Thoughts,
Don was born in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having served twenty-two years in South Africa as missionaries with his wife Kathy, and eight years pastoring in the United States, he shares unique perspectives about life, family, relationships, and ministry.